MIRACLES IN MEXICO
By Robert Kelly
At Pasos Milagrosos, we really do believe in miracles!
Emilio Ramirez, aged four, arrived at Elena and Pablo Cooper’s “Pasos Milagrosos” (“Miraculous Steps”) Equine Therapy Program, in March, 2007. Emilio has Asperger Syndrome, a condition falling in the autism spectrum (ASD). Locked into himself, frustrated and fearful of the world, Emilio was hostile, aggressive (even biting), and unable to communicate. Resisting all, he remained thus through three months of ground training trying to make him comfortable around the horses, therapists and volunteers.
A breakthrough came in June that year when he first allowed himself to be put on a horse. Slowly over the next months, the warmth and rhythmical movements of the horse, “BiBi” began to take effect, relaxing him somewhat, and even evoking the odd slight smile. Within another month he began, hesitantly and infrequently, to acknowledge the presence of his instructress, Maestra Velia.
During that winter, direct instruction on fine motor and cognitive skills and communication were introduced into his program leading to a limited ability to listen and to follow some simple verbal and visual directions. This significant change was Emilio’s first real attempt at socializing and communicating. It was a major step and his interest in mounting and riding seemed to increase concurrently. All through 2008 Maestra Velia continued to encourage him to trust her and to come out of his world of ASD but it remained mostly a one-sided love affair, with Emilio unable to give himself over.
Progress was slow over the winter but in the summer of 2009, he became increasingly vocal and one day to everyone’s amazement and great delight, dramatically called “BiBi” his horse, “Louie.” From that point his progress “took off” and by autumn he really blossomed—frequently seeming to escape his “locked in” world. Fully bonded with “Louie,” chattering to himself while riding, his hostility lessened and he began to participate increasingly in more aspects of the program.
By winter, in addition to doing puzzles: colors, shapes, animals and numbers, with truly incredible speed and accuracy, he was able to correctly hold a marker pen and draw animals which he now identifies orally—and loudly. Lately he has even begun to suggest the order in which some of the puzzles should be ordered or completed. At last free and able to do so he talks constantly, sings songs and seems to trust everyone.
Two and a half years after he joined “Pasos” the foundations have been laid upon which his neurological functions, sensory processing and psychological well being are, and can be, improved. Through his reciprocal love for “Louie”, through the trust, love, dedication and patience of the Coopers, the therapists and the volunteers, this child is now bursting to fully embrace a world which once terrified him. Initially hostile, aggressive, and virtually non-responsive, Emilio has opened up and is evolving into a happy and loving child.
Since its beginning in 2007, over 30 children have been assisted similarly through the variety of equine therapy programs at “Pasos.” A new computer program has been added and who knows maybe Emilio will be able to participate in it. At “Pasos Milagrosos”, we REALLY DO BELIEVE IN MIRACLES as we witness our dear Emilio and his fellow students finding freedom and joy formerly alien to them.
This non-profit organization is entirely funded and operated by the generosity of the Coopers, contributions from the public, the medical assessors, therapists and volunteers. Needless to say, contributions are always welcome.
Save the Date: The next “fundraiser” is the 4th Annual Equestrian Extravaganza, 2p.m., Saturday, January 23, 2010 at La Quinta Cross Ranch (Prol. Ocampo 640, Alseseca, Ajijic. Welcome one and all to see the fantastic equestrian show and some of the children going through their programs, dinner and Mariachi. Tickets at “Pasos” (7635764) or Dr. C Zavala, Javier Mina #38: (766-1604) 600 Pesos each.
www.pasosmilagrosos.com, Come visit!
For more information about Lake Chapala visit: www.chapala.com